Rah Rah @ the WISE Hall, 9/17/09

Rah Rah
When Rah Rah is on top form, the group’s live show is a revelation. Unfortunately, last night at the WISE Hall, the six-piece battled muddy sound and a persistent, annoying feedback buzz from the PA. The band members seemed understandably thrown off by the technical difficulties, as the show didn’t have the same euphoric energy as when I saw the group a few months back.

Despite a lackluster start, the mood picked up a few songs in with the propulsive boroque rocker “Betrayal Pt. 1,” its thundering rhythm section and wailing violin evoking the swirling grandeur of Arcade Fire. A few songs later, multi-instrumentalist Erin Passmore took over lead vocals for “Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel,” a gorgeous, countrified tribute to the band’s hometown of Regina.

The set ended with a series of new songs, one of which featured a party canon wielded by violinist/accordionist Kristina Hedlund. As she sprayed confetti into the crowd, it was an instant of pure, unrestrained joy. Although such moments were in shorter supply than usual, the musicians still earned a chant of “Rah Rah! Rah Rah!” as they filed off the stage.

The show was stolen by the opener, psychedelic rock four-piece Yukon Blonde. The group recently relocated to Vancouver from Kelowna, and this performance was the band’s first on a six week cross-Canada tour. Clad in all white, the band members tore through a brief but memorable set of gritty dual guitar jams and melodic California folk rock (think CSNY or the Byrds). The guitars crunched and jangled in equal measure, and the three-part vocal harmonies were pure Summer of Love. With a brand new EP just released and a LP on the way next year, look for Yukon Blonde’s profile to rise over the next few months.

Also on the bill was Red Cedar, who delivered a solid set of southern-fried rock. Drawing on the whiskey-soaked jams of My Morning Jacket as well as Rust Never Sleeps-era Neil Young, the band delivered a satisfyingly raucous performance, although you had to ignore the bassist’s ridiculous facial expressions in order to enjoy it.
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  1. Brent Wolfe
    Posted September 19, 2009 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    “Yukon Blonde puts on a clinic” should be the header then? That’s why they wear white.
    If you wear the new YB t-shirt to bed – you’ll find a rockin’ garden of turnip,radish,beets, in yer sheets!
    I can’t wait for the Angelina Jolie one. Uncle B.

  2. Posted September 19, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Finally!! An upbeat, feel good rock n’ roll band who’s talented three part harmonies, intelligent lyrics and soulful guitar solos gets the crowd jumpin! Yukon Blondes’ enthusiasm for Life, Fun, and good ol’ rock n’ roll is hyper contagious.
    Black is passe, we’ve seen the White and Yukon Blonde is wearin’ it Loud N’ Proud!

  3. The Pube
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    That’s a great and accurate summary of the show. Yukon Blonde was definitely the highlight of the event. Their sound is clean and crisp and really gets the blood pumping. Yukon’s sound is unique. I’m looking forward to their new album.

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